29+ TV Characters Who Definitely Couldn't Afford Their Lavish Lifestyles


| LAST UPDATE 01/09/2023

By Petra Grover

From Carrie Bradshaw's outstanding shoe collection to Kramer never having a steady job, these fictional on-screen characters seemingly led unrealistic lifestyles. Here's a closer look back…

Carrie Bradshaw

Sarah Jessica Parker played the incredibly iconic Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City for six seasons, two films, and a sequel series. Bradshaw instantly became known for her trendy outfits. But was it realistic? 

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Perhaps not! From her extensive shoe collection to her to-die-for Manhattan apartment, it seems unlikely that Carrie, working as a column writer, would have been able to afford all of this - even if her apartment was rent-controlled. According to Yahoo Finance, a writer in 1998 would have earned $35,553.29 a year.  

Jessica Day

In Fox's New Girl, Jess, played by Zooey Deschanel, needed a place to crash after a bad breakup and found an open room in an apartment with 3 single men. It would make sense that living on a teacher's salary, she could afford rent and her daily expenses. But when the math is done, something doesn't add up!

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Time Out estimated that she would have earned $25,152 as a teacher. However, her yearly spending was estimated to be around $113,332. Even living with roommates, the quirky Jess Day could clearly not afford the lifestyle she was living in Los Angeles, California. Hey girl, check out that bank account!

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Kurt Hummel & Rachel Berry

In the later seasons of the hit Fox show Glee, Rachel Berry, played by Lea Michele, and Kurt Hummel, played by Chris Colfer, move on from their high school glee club and head to the Big Apple. They attend a performing arts college and work part-time at a local diner while sharing an apartment. Seems reasonable, right?

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The apartment Rachel and Kurt shared cost them $1,800 in rent in the Glee universe. However, that is far from reality. During the time of the show, the median price for a studio apartment in Bushwick was $2,353, according to the real estate website Zumper. These college students get an A+ for living above their means.

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Phoebe, Piper & Prue Halliwell

Phoebe, Piper, and Prue Halliwell are 3 sisters who certainly lived a charmed life in more than one way. Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, and Shannen Doherty starred in the WB television series, Charmed. The Halliwell sisters were witches who discovered their destiny to battle evil forces. 

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They should have used their powers to conjure up some extra cash to afford their lavish lifestyle. The sisters lived in a gothic-style manor in San Francisco and drove BMWs. However, their occupations as a student, auction house appraiser, and a chef could hardly have afforded these luxuries. What a charmed life.

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Lorelai Gilmore

The beloved, fast-talking single mother of one, Lorelai Gilmore, was living a luxurious life even though she realistically could not have afforded it. Gilmore, played by Lauren Graham, manages the Independence Inn in the small, fictional town of Stars Hollow and raises her teenage daughter, played by Alexis Bledel.

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While Gilmore Girls showed how it was difficult for Lorelai to afford certain things, like college tuition, other aspects of her life were out of reach. Based on the amount of take-out and coffee she indulged in, there is seemingly no way she would have been able to afford that on her reported $50,000 salary, as estimated by Screen Rant.

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Frasier Crane

Kelsey Grammer starred as Dr. Frasier Crane on NBC's Frasier for an impressive 11 seasons. Frasier was the epitome of living a luxurious lifestyle. He would attend the opera, loved pricey wines, and enjoyed fine dining. In reality, it seems unrealistic that Frasier would have been able to live the way that he did.

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Frasier worked as a radio psychologist. At the time of the show, he would have earned an average of $56,813.48, according to Yahoo Finance. Not to mention, the condominium he lived in would have cost an estimated $1.6 million, and the BMW he drove would have been at least $30,000. Wow!

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The Dunphy Family

The Dunphy family didn't live a boujee lifestyle filled with shopping sprees or extravagant vacations, but was it beyond their means? Phil, played by Ty Burrell, worked as a real estate agent. While Claire, played by Julie Bowen, was a stay-at-home mom who cared for their three kids, Hailey, Alex, and Luke on Modern Family.

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It seems like they had everything under control, but they would not have been able to afford this lifestyle. According to E! News, the actual Dunphy home sold for $2.15 million in 2014. That is far from what Phil would have been able to afford. According to Time Out, he would have made $94,655/year. Uh-oh!

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Lily Aldrin

Alyson Hannigan starred as Lily Aldrin, the aspiring artist, and sometimes fierce kindergarten teacher, on the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother. Aldrin had a bad habit of going on shopping sprees whenever she was stressed and coming home with bags of stuff. Would she have been able to afford all of this?

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CBS via YouTube

Apparently not! Working as a kindergarten teacher, Lily would have made $43,060 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With rent and daily living expenses, there is no way that she would have been able to afford everything. Her spin-off should be called How I Met Your Credit Card Bill.

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Amber Holt

Parenthood aired on NBC for six seasons and followed the lives of the Braverman family. One of them, in particular, was living way beyond what she could have afforded in reality. Amber Holt, played by Mae Whitman, lived at her grandparents' house for the show's first 3 seasons and then decided to move out and get her own place.

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She moved into a modern loft apartment in San Francisco with all new appliances. This could have been believable if she was working a high-earning job. However, Amber worked as a barista. According to Yahoo Finance, it would have paid an average salary of $17,995.24 in 2011. Seems like her lifestyle was just a tad out of reach.

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Pretty Little Liars centered around four best friends who are being stalked and terrorized by a mysterious enemy who goes by the nickname 'A.' The Freeform television show ran for 7 suspenseful seasons and was known for its dark twists and turns. But how did A do it?

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A would create complex ways to torture Spencer, Hanna, Aria, and Emily. For example, she built a life-size dollhouse with exact replicas of each girl's bedroom. She would also create complicated torture devices for them. It seemed that she had an unlimited budget and time to devote to making their lives miserable.

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Danny Tanner

Danny Tanner from Full House was the father of everyone's childhood. Everyone wanted to be a Tanner. They had their iconic San Franciscan home that was always filled with friends and family. But was it even realistic? It turns out there was seemingly no way that Danny, played by the late Bob Saget, would have been able to afford this home.

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According to the Daily Mail, the Tanner's house would have likely cost around $441,929. That is way more than Danny would have been able to afford to work as a radio show host and raise 3 girls on his own. Thankfully, he had Jesse and Joey to help out with the girls. Who knows? Maybe they paid rent?

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Tom Haverford

In the hilarious NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, Tom Haverford, played by comedian Aziz Ansari, liked to live life to the fullest. From his annual Treat Yo' Self Day to his outrageous apartment outfitted with chocolate fountains and a pair of slippers at every doorway, it was a little puzzling how he could have afforded it all.

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Parks and Recreation via YouTube

It turns out there is no way that he could have. Tom would have earned around $43,000 per year as a government employee. While the show addressed that Tom was in credit card debt, there was no way that he would have been able to live like that - even if he maxed out every card he had. If one thing is sure, he did treat himself!

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The Griffin Family

Although it's a cartoon, the Griffin family from Fox's Family Guy lived a lifestyle beyond their means. Peter, voiced by Seth MacFarlane, has a series of blue-collar jobs throughout the years, from being a safety inspector at a toy factory to working in the shipping department at a local brewery.

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Yet, it is highly unrealistic that they would have been able to live the way they do. Peter would not have been able to afford their modestly sized household while constantly switching between his jobs - making about $50,000/year, according to Screen Rant. They may be animated, but they are still living lavishly.

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Rachel Green

The first episode of the hit NBC sitcom Friends starts with Rachel Green, played by Jennifer Aniston, running out on her wedding and declaring herself independent from her dad's money. She started working as a barista at their local coffee spot, Central Perk. However, could Rachel have actually afforded all of this?

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It is possible that Rachel could have made rent since the apartment she shared with her BFF was supposedly rent-controlled. But what about living expenses and all those shopping bags? That is less doable on a barista's salary - about $4.25/hour in '94, according to Cheat Sheet. Remember, she doesn't want a hat - it was just a metaphor!

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Penny, played by Kaley Cuoco, was an aspiring actress who worked as a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory to make money on The Big Bang Theory. She ends up befriending her across-the-hall neighbors, scientists Leonard, played by Johnny Galecki, and Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons. The CBS sitcom ran for an astronomical 12 seasons.

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Except, the equation of Penny's lifestyle is not quite adding up. She lived alone in the same apartment building as 2 renowned scientists who shared an apartment just across the hall. Maybe Leonard and Sheldon figured out the math for her! Otherwise, it seems unlikely that her $28,000/year, according to Screen Rant, was realistic.

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Cosmo Kramer

Kramer was the eccentric and slacker neighbor of comedian Jerry Seinfeld in the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. He was known for his crazy antics and perpetual state of unemployment. Yet, despite never being gainfully employed, Kramer could make rent in his New York City apartment - and always had the money for shenanigans.

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Yahoo Finance wrote that an apartment in the area they lived in would have cost an estimated $295,274 in 1989 when the show took place. That is a heck of a lot of money for someone who rarely had a job throughout the show's nine seasons. Kramer was definitely living beyond what was realistically possible, and he had fun doing it!

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Max Black & Caroline Channing

Max Black and Caroline Channing were two waitresses who struck up an unlikely friendship on CBS's 2 Broke Girls. Channing, played by Beth Behrs, was a former rich girl who was forced to start over when her family lost all of their money, while Black, played by Kat Dennings, was from a working-class background. 

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While the show's title may have made it seem that these girls were constantly down on their luck, the way they lived suggested otherwise. The Williamsburg loft apartment that they shared would have cost way more than the supposed $2,000 a month that they spent on it. These broke girls were perhaps not so broke.

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Tim Taylor

Tim Allen starred as Tim Taylor in the ABC sitcom Home Improvement. The sitcom followed Tim as he hosted a cable television show called "Tool Time," and dealt with the daily tribulations of being a husband and father to 3 boys. He may have had a cable show, but was it realistic that he could have afforded everything?

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Tim had an amazing house, was the sole money maker and rebuilt old cars as a hobby. According to Ranker, his salary placed him at about $65,000/year. Maybe he was able to wrench his way through, but it seems like he was living a lifestyle he couldn't pay for.

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Chloe & June Colburn

Chloe, played by Krysten Ritter, had a good gig going on the ABC sitcom Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. She would ask her roommates for rent money up front and then act so outrageously that they would leave. However, that plan stopped when June Colburn, played by Dreama Walker, came to live with her.

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Without a steady income from Chloe and June working at a coffee shop, there is no way these two girls could have afforded living in the New York City apartment they did. They were definitely living it up in the big city and living life to the fullest - even if it was unrealistic.

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Hannah Horvath

Girls was a ground-breaking portrayal of young adults navigating life in New York City. Lena Dunham starred as Hannah Horvath, an aspiring writer whose parents cut her off and now has to figure out how to pursue her dreams while also paying rent. Yet, despite being cut off, the lifestyle Hannah maintained was still out of reach.

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Hannah had multiple jobs, including working as a GQ writer. However, there was no way that she would have been able to afford the 2-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn that she lived in. Even if Hannah had been working for GQ, according to Glassdoor, it would have paid around $49,679 per year. She was, for sure, living in the clouds.

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Nick Miller

Nick Miller, played by Jake Johnson, had 3 other roommates living in a Los Angeles apartment in the Fox sitcom New Girl. One of his roommates, Jess Day, was also included in this list. It seems that their apartment was full of people who couldn't actually afford the way they were living.

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Miller worked as a bartender through most of the show, raking in about $42,000/year, according to Screen Rant. He constantly talked about how he was short on cash, so there was some truth there. But he would have been much worse off in reality based on his living habits. Maybe these roommates should have found a different place to live...

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Dev Shah

In the Netflix series Master of None, Aziz Ansari played Dev Shah. The series followed Shah as he lived and worked as a commercial actor in New York City. Being in the city that never sleeps, Shah constantly went out to eat with friends and lived in a stunning apartment. Then, he decided to move to Italy in the second season.

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How was that even possible?! In reality, perhaps it wasn't. As a commercial actor, Shah would have made $366.37 a day, according to Project Casting. Plus, acting is an unstable job where there could be months of unemployment. There is likely no way that he would have been able to make rent or afford a move to Europe!

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Caitlin Snow & Cisco Ramon

The CW's The Flash was centered around Barry Allen, played by Grant Gustin, an ordinary guy who obtained the superpower of speed when he was struck by lightning. In the show, he is helped by friends who form Team Flash. Two members lived a life that seemed superhuman in more ways than one.

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Cisco Ramon, played by Carlos Valdes, and Caitlin Snow, played by Danielle Panabaker, were dedicated members of Team Flash. They also had superhuman powers, but that doesn't explain how they could pay for their apartments and meals out. When STAR Labs was no longer backed by its wealthy financier, who paid for their salaries?

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Kara Zor-El

Kara Zor-El is better known by her alter ego, Supergirl. Melissa Benoist starred as Kara in The CW series Supergirl for six seasons. The show followed Supergirl as she navigated her superhero career and balanced her real-life job as an editorial assistant because even superheroes have to pay the bills.

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Yet, her ginormous and gorgeous apartment would not be affordable on an editorial assistant's salary. The show's creators addressed the believability and justified it by saying that Kara's landlord gives her a break on the rent because she is super. This superhero was definitely living an extraordinary life.

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Adam Braverman

Adam Braverman, played by Peter Krause, was one guy living a lifestyle he could not afford. Braverman was the father of 3 children and worked as a manager at a big company on the NBC show Parenthood. While he had a great job, he was spending above what he earned, without a doubt.

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During the show's 4th season, Braverman had to pay for his daughter's college tuition, support a son with special needs, help his wife through her chemotherapy treatments, and that's not all. He also had an infant to take care of! Plus, the show acknowledged that he had already used up his savings when he was unemployed.

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Al Bundy

Ed O'Neil played one of the most famous characters of all time - Al Bundy, on Fox's Married With Children. Bundy was a high school football player who turned into a shoe salesman. He lived in Chicago with a wife and 2 kids. And even though their lives were never displayed as glamorous, the math didn't add up.

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According to Yahoo Finance, the average salary of a shoe salesman at the time of the show would have been $10,447.70. Their 3-bedroom and 2-bathroom household would have cost around $134,000. That is a lot of shoes Al would have had to sell to cover the mortgage. No one ever said that being married with children was easy!

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Marshall Eriksen

Marshall Eriksen, played by Jason Segel, was a law student at the start of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. While his career eventually grew over the seasons, there were many aspects of his life that he could not actually pay for. In the earlier seasons, he was able to make rent in a NYC apartment without any mention of a job.

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CBS via YouTube

Then, he got married to Lily, played by Alyson Hannigan. Paying for a wedding is one thing, but now Marshall also had to figure out how to pay for his wife's shopping addiction. While he ended up getting a flashy job at NY's Supreme Justice, securing about $210,000/year, per Screen Rant, his overall lifestyle seemed out of reach.

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Blake Henderson, Adam DeMamp, & Anders Holmvik

Comedy Central's Workaholics followed the lives of 3 college dropouts who lived and worked together in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Blake, Adam, and Anders worked as telemarketers and often found themselves in crazy situations. With their bad habits and poor work performance, these guys lived miles above what they could afford.

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According to Indeed, the average telemarketer's salary in California is around $18.55/hour currently, which means it would have been less back when the show aired. Even though Blake, Adam, and Anders shared a house, it is unlikely they could have afforded their life in reality.

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Matt Murdock

Daredevil centered around Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who becomes a crime-fighting vigilante at night by the name of Daredevil. Actor Charlie Cox played the titular character for 3 seasons on the Netflix show. While he may have been a lawyer, fighting crime doesn't really come with a salary. So, what was the deal?

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Daredevil lived in an apartment in the neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen in New York City. His apartment had huge windows and lots of open space, but Murdock constantly told his clients that the company was at risk of shutting down due to a lack of funds. This superhero was living a super-sized life.

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Monica Geller

The uptight Type-A friend, Monica Geller, who Courteney Cox played, always had a spotless apartment on the NBC sitcom Friends. While the show did not shy away from addressing her money problems when she was unemployed or when she and Chandler were low on cash after he quit his job, something smelled weird in the kitchen there.

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TBS via YouTube

The show explained that Monica's apartment was under rent control and belonged to a relative. Still, even forgetting the apartment, the average salary of a chef in 1994, according to Yahoo Finance, was $26,278.74. Monica most likely spent that amount on coffee alone! It sounds like the good life, despite it being unaffordable.

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